North Korea launches ICBM ahead of South Korea-Japan summit

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Third missile test this week Leaders of Japan and South Korea prepare to hold their first summit in years.

North Korea has fired an intercontinental ballistic missile into its eastern waters, hours before South Korea’s president is due to visit Japan for the first summit between the two countries in years, with the situation in nuclear-armed North Korea a major concern Is.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Thursday morning that Pyongyang had launched a prohibited ICBM.

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After being launched from the North Korean capital Pyongyang at around 7.10 a.m., the weapon flew towards the eastern waters of the Korean Peninsula, the military said in a statement. It said the ICBM launched at a steep angle and traveled a distance of about 1,000 kilometers (620 mi) before landing in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

Japan also detected the missile and the Coast Guard issued a warning to ships to be on the lookout for fallen objects.


Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the missile likely landed in the sea outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone after about an hour in the air. The landing site is about 250 kilometers (155 mi) off the western island of Oshimaoshima, which is close to where other North Korean ICBMs were dropped after test-flights.

The launch is North Korea’s first ICBM in a month, but follows a series of missile launch incidents this week amid ongoing large-scale military drills between South Korea and the United States, which Pyongyang described as hostile and a rehearsal for an invasion. accepts.

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The latest launch comes hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida meet in Tokyo for the first bilateral summit in 12 years.

Both South Korea and Japan are increasing defense spending and joint military exercises, which Yoon has called essential for regional and global stability.

North Korea ramps up weapons testing as the US and South Korea conduct their Freedom Shield joint military exercises [Defence Ministry/Handout via Reuters]

Before leaving for Tokyo, Yoon called an emergency security meeting at the launch, asking the South Korean military to step up its ongoing drills with the US military, intensify some planned joint exercises, and strengthen Seoul-Washington-Tokyo security cooperation. order to strengthen. According to Yoon’s office.

“There is a clear price to be paid for North Korea’s reckless provocation,” the president said.

In Tokyo, Kishida said: “We must further strengthen cooperation between allies and like-minded countries.” He declined to comment on North Korea’s possible motives for the launch.

Already this week, Pyongyang has fired cruise missiles from a submarine and sent short-range ballistic missiles into its territory and toward targets in the East Sea, with leader Kim Jong Un ordering his military to Be prepared to repel what are called “fierce battle preparation moves.” by opponents of North Korea.

The US and South Korea on Monday began the so-called Freedom Shield exercise, which includes field drills and computer simulations. They will end on March 23.

Meanwhile, the US said it “strongly condemns” North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test. White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement that such actions unnecessarily escalate tensions in the region.

North Korea fired a record number of missiles last year, citing its weapons development as necessary for self-defense.

North Korea launches ICBM ahead of South Korea-Japan summit

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